21st Century Browser Wars: Firefox 3.7 pursues 64-bit support, Aero integration, and more

From time to time, I like to download the latest and greatest version of Firefox and other software, which allows me to get a sneak peek at some of the new features.  I was very happy to see that Mozilla has decided to pursue development of Firefox specifically for 64-bit Windows-based systems.  To my knowledge, 64-bit Firefox has been available for Linux and Mac for some time, but not Windows.

Almost immediately upon loading the nightly build of Firefox 3.7, I noticed that developers had given the web browser a much needed facelift.  The facelift includes integration with Windows Aero which gives us a translucent glassy effect, and the ability to move tabs above the location bar, similar to Google Chrome.  This is a huge step forward from being forced to utilize Glasser, among other plugins.

I absolutely love the Add-ons Manager, which a huge step up from the tiny dialog given in FF 3.6 and earlier versions.  The intuitive Add-ons Manager is the central location for controlling languages, search engines, extensions, themes, and plugins.  Much like the Programs and Features (Add/Remove Programs) section of Control Panel in Windows, the user can sort by name, size, and last updated, as well complete a custom search using keywords.  Visual indicators make life easier by singling out add-ons marked for removal, and those to be disabled.  From the Add-On Manager interface, users can also rate extensions, contribute to development, check for updates, or even stop automatic updates from occurring.

I was impressed with some of the improvements made in the Firefox 3.7a5 release, but it is obvious that they have a long road ahead before this is ready for release.  I’m hoping that Mozilla can add some of the polish that will thrust this browser to the #1 spot, and into the 21st century.  The Browser Wars have only just begun.  The newest version of Opera offers some of the smoothest browsing I’ve ever experienced with an excellently-designed user interface.  Google Chrome offers simplicity, but with speed unmatched by any other browser.  Chrome also offers seamless integration into most Google services.  I am a loyal Mozilla Firefox user, but a user with a wish list.  My only hope is that Mozilla never stops pursuing the #1 spot, as I believe they have the best browser platform on the market, and an unmatched arsenal of extensions.

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